Creating a pain-free working environment

Monday, 22 October 2018

In an age of increasing demand, workers are having to work faster and for longer periods than ever before. Manufacturers are also having to adapt in order to increase output and improve efficiency.  But what does all of this mean for the workers themselves?

The health and safety of workers has to be a priority and with the majority of packers having to stand for prolonged periods of time, an ergonomic workplace is vital.

According to a report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2016/17 there were over 500,000 work-related musculoskeletal disorders recorded, and 8.9 million working days were lost. These figures highlight the cost to both businesses and people.

Packing goods is an area that sees a significant number of upper body related disorders including strains to hands, wrists, shoulders, neck and the back. Some 229,000 cases were reported to the HSE in the period above, due primarily to repetitive strain injuries from repeated packing. Other work-related musculoskeletal disorders can be caused by repeated twisting of the body, bending and straining or simply lifting too much weight.

Woman packing at packstation work bench.Creating an ergonomic packing workplace

Today, there is a much greater understanding of the science of ergonomics and how it can be applied to workstations in order to improve worker wellbeing and performance.  Workers in packing and processing typically stand for long periods of time, repeating processes such as leaning, twisting or reaching.  This can lead to poor postures and muscular strain.

In some instances, workers will need to replenish consumable items which means moving away from the static standing position where they may have been for some time, to then lift and carry accessories back to the workstation, each process putting different strains on the body.

These tasks can be made easier for the worker if the workstation or packing equipment itself is designed with the user in mind. A good design will accommodate all types of workers, whether short or tall in height, or those less abled.

Creating a checklist

You can begin by understanding what equipment you have and how it works. Once you have listed your equipment you can then evaluate it in terms of functionality, comfort, flexibility and performance – you can do this by carrying out a survey with your workers.  Here are a few helpful questions that you can start with:

  • Can you adjust the height of your workstations, packing machines, racking systems etc?
  • Can workers reach accessories or consumables without stretching, twisting or straining?
  • Are your packaging consumables light enough for all workers to lift?
  • Can workers lift and move packed goods with ease?
  • Is there sufficient leg room or space to move around workstations safely?
  • Can workers see and read digital displays clearly and without leaning?
  • Is the workspace cluttered? Do you need more storage solutions?

We all have a duty to ensure the health and safety of our workers and ergonomically designed packing systems and workstations will not only improve the wellbeing and comfort of your staff, you will minimise any risks of strain or injury and reduce days lost due to sickness which, at the end of the day, is preventable.

All Pregis solutions are ergonomically designed for total user comfort and safety right from the start. Whether it’s our adjustable Packmaster pro or Quantum XT systems or a fully bespoke Packstation work bench, we’ll help you find what will work for your business. If you would like any advice or help with creating a more ergonomic packing environment, please contact us on 01438 740649 or visit www.pregiseu.com where you can view our ergonomic packing solutions.

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